Conquering the World, Subduing the Minds: Śaṅkara’s digvijaya in the Local Context




Kerala, Trichur, Nambudiri Brahmins, Śaṅkara, Advaita Vedānta, monastic institution, monastic order, hagiography, digvijaya, Śaṅkaradigvijaya


Most of Śaṅkara’s hagiographies feature his conquer of the quarters (digvijaya) as their dominant topos. During his all-India conquest, Śaṅkara was said to have traveled along with his disciples to the four corners of the Indian Peninsula. He is supposed to have established four vidyāpīṭhas (seats of learning). However, alternation to this popular account remains in circulation in Kerala. According to the local hagiographic tradition, Śaṅkara founded four Advaita Vedānta maṭhas in the city of Trichur only. These were Vadakke Maṭham (“Northern Maṭha”), Naduvil Maṭham (“Middle Maṭha”), Edayil Maṭham (“Maṭha In-between”) and Thekke Maṭham (“Southern Maṭha”). Subsequently, he attained samādhi in the Vadakkunnathan Temple situated nearby. Three of the above mentioned monasteries have survived until today. All those institutions were built in one city, next to each other, just a few hundred meters away from the Vadakkunnathan Temple. The physical space of Trichur was rearranged in order to actualize the ideological concept which gave it a symbolic meaning. Thus, the legendary map of Śaṅkara’s life became recreated and inscribed in the geographic location of Trichur.

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How to Cite

Nowicka, Olga. 2016. “Conquering the World, Subduing the Minds: Śaṅkara’s Digvijaya in the Local Context”. Cracow Indological Studies 18 (December):145-66.